Run-Throughs of AAA Presentations

Event Date: 

Friday, November 15, 2019 - 1:30pm to 3:30pm

Event Location: 

  • Education 1205

"Language professionalization as a trigger for language-ideological revalorization in a Mixtec immigrant community”

Anna Bax
Department of Linguistics, UCSB

While an increasing number of scholars now study the labor that language professionals do, the effects of minority-language professionalization on communities are only recently beginning to be understood (Hornberger & Swinehart 2012). This paper explores the ideological shifts that have followed the recent professionalization of Mixtec, an indigenous Mexican language, in Ventura County, California. In both Mexico and the US, Mixtec speakers are subjected to the colonial-capitalist ideology that success is predicated on abandoning indigenous languages for dominant ones (Messing 2009; Pérez, Vásquez, & Buriel 2016), a stigmatization which has induced rapid language shift. In Ventura County, however, the 2001 opening of a Mixtec nonprofit has created a new category of Mixtec-language professionals, including interpreters, translators, and programming facilitators. Using ethnographic interviews with Mixtec youth, I trace the positive indexical refiguring of Mixtec in young adults’ and their parents’ language ideologies across time. Thanks to professionalization, Mixtec has been recast as a profitable asset: while Mixtec-dominant parents once encouraged their children to learn Spanish and English for economic advancement, they now exhort them to (re)learn Mixtec to take advantage of job opportunities. However, professionalization has also seen some community members view Mixtec as a commodity (Heller 2010) under an ideology of neoliberal individual advancement, rather than as a means of strengthening one’s community in accordance with traditional Mixtec values (Uliasz 2018). Ultimately, this paper explores the complex “ideological (re)interpretations of economic and political possibilities” (McCarty & Wyman 2009: 284) by indigenous Mixtec immigrants as their heritage language undergoes increasing professionalization.

“#MagicResistance: Anti-Trump witchcraft as register circulation”

Julia Fine
Department of Linguistics, UCSB

This study examines the phenomenon of anti-Trump witchcraft, popularized by Michael Hughes’ viral 2017 ritual (“A Spell to Bind Donald Trump and All Those Who Abet Him”), as an instance of register circulation and ultimately register emergence. Drawing on a digital ethnography of the #MagicResistance movement, including videotaped rituals and interviews with practitioners, the analysis finds that practitioners reframe differences between Trump’s speech and the language of mediatized binding spells to reindexicalize ritual language as oppositional to Trumpism. Practitioners variously characterize magical activism as a mismatch between or a synthesis of two registers, demonstrating that incongruity between registers is interactionally constructed rather than prediscursive. Finally, #MagicResistance practitioners emphasize the cathartic and empowering effects of ritual practice, showing how register circulation—often analyzed at the macrosocial level—manifests in relation to individual agency and individual affect.

“‘They say I can’t gun bar ‘em to death’: Stance and Embodiment through Media Representation of Battle Rap”

Jamaal Muwwakkil & deandre miles-hercules
Department of Linguistics, UCSB

While mass media can serve to reinforce normative speech practices, it can also be a site of resistance, whereby marked variants can be normalized within a given genre. Hip-Hop is one such domain, in which deviations from normative linguistic expectations (e.g. semantics, phonetics, prosody) become celebrated dialogically as linguistic dexterity. Sociolinguistics has looked at myriad contexts to make sense of language variation, with specific attention paid to African American English (AAE) as a language variety replete with salient indexes of class and regionality (Morgan 1994, Rickford & Rickford 2000, Smitherman 2006), but little work has been done on AAE embodied stance and dialogicality (Dubois 2007) as it branches into the multimodal (Mondada 2014a).  In this paper, we highlight the body as a site through which functional stance is made manifest by observing the phenomenon of the gun bar as performed in contemporary battle rap.  Battle rappers competing within formats like the YouTube disseminated Ultimate Rap League routinely draw upon prior discourse, both general and localized, during the course of verbal acts. We discuss the intertextuality of the gun bar as a generic feature of battle rap and its functions, including appeals to ethos and (re)contextualization of local memory.  These embodied performances represent a routinized order that function, alongside their verbalized content, as an essential element in the successful enactment of a bar. We find that the rappers accomplish successful communication of the gun bar through nuanced embodiment alongside strategic metaphor that is accessible to the interlocutors.  These findings tie together work done in sociolinguistics via AAE and HHNL, and functional theories of stance and embodiment as a means of reifying battle rap/hip hop culture through a prominent mediatized venue (Alim 2006, Williams 2016).  

“Music and Intertextuality in the Japanese Video Game Series”

Chloe Willis
Department of Linguistics, UCSB

Both music and language are powerful intertextual tools. However, the literature on the interplay between musical and verbal modalities as it relates to intertextuality is limited (Briggs & Bauman, 1992). The present analysis attends to this understudied relationship in a similarly understudied genre – video games. I examine how music and language work in concert to create intertextual links between characters and events in the latest installment of the Japanese video game series The Legend of Zelda. Indeed, the Zelda series is particularly well known for its music, drawing overt commentary from critics and fans alike, making it an ideal site for the study of music and language. Breath of the Wild, the latest installment of the nineteen title series, is no exception. A particularly pivotal cutscene in Breath of the Wild reveals how music and language are used to both liken and differentiate Breath of the Wild from previous Zelda games. As the narrative progresses from revealing Breath of the Wild-specific events and characters to invoking series-wide events and characters, the musical score progresses in parallel from the marked minimalist score that Breath of the Wild is known for, to the sweeping, orchestral themes used in previous Zelda games. In other words, the juxtaposition of music within the same narrative situates Breath of the Wild as a unique installment embedded within a familiar series. This analysis highlights the potential of video games as a genre in which to explore the relationship between language, music, and meaning.